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The ObamaCare ruling: Is Mitt Romney caught in a tax trap?
The GOP candidate is attacking the individual mandate outlined under President Obama's health care law, while defending the one he pushed through in Massachusetts
 
As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney imposed an individual mandate under his health care law — including a tax penalty — before Obama did.
As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney imposed an individual mandate under his health care law — including a tax penalty — before Obama did.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Mitt Romney is under fire from the Left and the Right for his campaign's reaction to the Supreme Court decision upholding ObamaCare based on Congress' power to tax. Conservative critics went ballistic after Romney strategist Eric Fehrnstrom told MSNBC on Monday that the Republican presidential candidate agrees with President Obama, who says the fine for people who defy the individual mandate to buy health insurance is a penalty, not a tax. Then Romney, who imposed his own health insurance mandate in Massachusetts as governor, said that his state's fine isn't a tax, but Obama's is, prompting Democrats to call him a flip-flopper. How big of a problem is this "tax trap" for Romney?

Mitt will face a Tea Party revolt if he eases up on "ObamaTax": Mitt needs to get his act together, fast, says Joel B. Pollak at Breitbart. The Tea Party is willing to set aside its doubts about Romney's moderate record and rally to his side to defeat the health law, which the Supreme Court exposed as a massive "ObamaTax" on the middle class. But if Romney's not willing to fight for what the Right stands for, fiscal conservatives are going to demand that he "give up and let someone else do it."
"Conservatives to Mitt: Quit now if you won't fight ObamaTax!"

Focusing on the tax penalty makes Romney look pathetic: Romney imposed an individual mandate with a tax penalty before Obama did, says Jed Lewison at Daily Kos. So "to call the mandate a middle-class tax hike is a ridiculous piece of spin by Romney" that makes him look like a flip-flopper. It's a huge "tactical error" to get sucked into this silly conservative hair-splitting. Anyone whose mind isn't made up on the Affordable Care Act is going to judge it on the benefits it delivers, not semantics.
"Mitt reflips, says the individual mandate is a tax after all"

Calling a truce might work... and it might not: Slamming ObamaCare as a tax could be a potent weapon for Romney, says Josh Kraushaar at National Journal, given how poorly ObamaCare polls, and how effectively it motivates conservatives. Yet Romney appears to be "calling a ceasefire" because of his own health-care record, and he doesn't want to divert attention from his focus on the economy. That play-it-safe approach might work if the economy "continues to sputter"; otherwise Romney could be guaranteeing his own defeat.
"Romney campaign declaring cease fire on health care"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

 

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